Pizza Hut is returning to South Africa after a six-year absence, with the opening of a restaurant in Johannesburg, the first of seven units planned in the nation this year, the company said Wednesday.
The Dallas-based division of Yum! Brands Inc. said the re-entry into South Africa would provide a springboard to development in other African nations.
The brand previously had dine-in Pizza Huts in South Africa, but it closed those in 2008. The company said the re-entry has more emphasis on delivery and to-go business.
“We consider South Africa a stepping stone into the rest of the continent,” said Randall Blackford, general manager for Pizza Hut Africa, in a statement.
“Based on our company’s experience successfully developing KFC in South Africa and other countries, we plan to use the same model to introduce Pizza Hut to Namibia, Angola and Zambia over the next year,” Blackford said.
Pizza Hut has more than 15,000 restaurants in 93 countries, and the company sees growth opportunities in Africa.
“Africa is an emerging continent with more than 1 billion people and endless possibilities for us to grow Pizza Hut over the long-term,” said Scott Bergren, chief executive of Pizza Hut and chief innovation officer for Louisville, Ky.-based Yum, which also owns Taco Bell.
Last year, Burger King Worldwide Inc. opened its first restaurant in South Africa, and in earnings calls has said sales there are encouraging. McDonald’s has indicated it is looking at other African markets for expansion.
“We’ve just scratched the surface of growth, and we’re aggressively accelerating Pizza Hut’s development across the delivery, express, and dine-in channels globally,” Bergren said in prepared remarks.
The new Johannesburg Pizza Hut features a modern design, digital menu boards and free Wi-Fi for guests, as well as online ordering and delivery.
The company said the menu features popular items that appeal to local tastes, with toppings that include boerewors, or farmer’s, sausage, and pizza made with peri-peri sauce.
“South Africa is a huge opportunity for Pizza Hut with its rapidly growing middle class and progressive consumers who love pizza,” Blackford added.
Yum has said South Africa is a key emerging market.
“It has an emerging economy and well-developed financial, energy and transportation sectors, a growing middle class and a large, youthful population of more than 52 million people,” the company said in a statement.
Yum already has developed 735 KFC restaurants in South Africa, and that brand has more than 250 locations in 16 other African countries.
Yum also said it opened more than 1,950 new restaurants outside the United States in 2013, with 82 percent of the development occurring in emerging markets.
Yum has Pizza Hut units in Egypt, but it considers those locations part of its Middle East division.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: Sept. 17, 2014 An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day of the company’s release. The company issued the release Wednesday.
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